Grey is the wall colour of the Millennium, and it’s so easy to see why grey living room ideas appeal to so many. Grey can create a warm scheme as easily as a cool one; it can channel edgy modern and charming country; be calm and soothing or vivid, lively and energetic.
Just a quick peek at a Farrow & Ball paint chart suggests the myriad possibilities of this favourite decorating shade and explains its enduring appeal.
From the barely-there neutrals of Dimity and Ammonite, to the mid tones of Lamp Room Gray and Calluna, through the green-edged Mizzle and Pigeon, blue-hued Parma Gray and Lulworth Blue and out the other side to deep dark Down Pipe, Plummett and Brassica.
‘The term ‘grey’ covers a huge number of colours which are often not true greys but contain colours that create distinct warm or cool undertones,’ explains Farrow & Ball’s very own Colour Curator Joa Studholme.
‘When it comes to choosing grey, it is the temperature of the tone that is most important and will affect the feel of the space. Greys look different in different light and different size rooms so we have created some tried and tested groups of colours that each have a distinctive character.’
All of this goes to explain that, over and above our blue, white, pink and green living room ideas, grey continues to be a favourite.
Grey living room ideas
1. Paint all the woodwork
A super-soft dove grey living room colour scheme works as a gentle contrast to rosy toned upholstery and accents. Painting all of the woodwork in the same colour has created a chic, seamless look that works beautifully with the art-deco inspired fluted chairs.
The walls aren’t broken up by different finishes, so the uninterrupted flow of grey paint plays with the proportions of the room, creating the illusion of more space and an airy, open room.
Take care when picking the best grey paint for your walls – you’ll need to consider your room’s size and situation.
2. Use silvery tones
The striking rough-luxe wall mural brings texture and movement to the space. The metallic highlights of the silky silver rug and wallcovering reflect the light, giving this glam living room even more of a lift.
A plush velvet sofa in a deeper grey punctuates the space and layers on the luxe. Combining touches of blush pink with the cool grey creates grown-up sophistication.
If you like this combination, or the previous look, our smart pink living room ideas will inspire you to introduce the shade into your home.
3. Add jewel accents
To turn a living room with high ceilings into an inviting, sociable space, opt for the deeper end of the grey spectrum to bring the walls in. Such an intense shade is the perfect way to showcase brave shots of colour.
Bringing a bold twist to the space is the fuchsia accent chair, ochre curtains and teal lampshade – taking this sitting room from sensible to sensational.
4. Create a textured wall
Get creative with smart living room paint ideas such as paint effects, which are back in fashion! But things have moved on since the sponge effect championed on Changing Rooms. Textured emulsion paint such as the Craig & Rose Artisan Concrete Effect Paint and Crown’s Suede paint will create a rustic, artfully imperfect finish.
Alternatively, a limed effect can be created using watered down flat matt emulsion, chalk paint or a specialist limewash such as Bauwerk’s selection.
Start by applying a bonding primer for plasterboard or previously painted walls. Then with a wide brush, apply the paint in random, sweeping strokes. A second and third coat needs to be watered down to allow the layers and textured effect to build.
Complement the walls with tactile velvet, layered in tonal hues for a vibe that’s calm, yet cost and oozes easy elegance.
5. Let architectural features pop
It’s common to want to hide architectural features such as RSJs. But in a grey room, letting them sing by painting them in white can create an interesting structural contrast. It also helps zone the space and therefore make it seem cosier – a neat trick, particularly if you’re using a cooler grey palette.
Use accessories to tie the look together further – white cushions on a grey sofa and a white tabletop do the job here.
6. Integrate shelving
Smart and sophisticated, charcoal grey brings depth to this elegant living room. Smart geometric designs on the cushions and rug along with polished chrome accents bring a timeless touch of boutique chic to the space.
Create the illusion of expensive, built-in storage by painting shelving the same colour as the walls. The alcove becomes a smart feature wall idea that’s easy to adjust. But sticking to a simple palette of black, white and silver reflects the pared back aesthetic of the room.
7. Use grey as an accent
If wall-to-wall grey isn’t for you, inject modern anthracite accents. A sofa in warm grey is not only a fail-safe style choice, it’s a practical option too. Tie in other features around the room such as fireplace surround, door or windows.
The floor to ceiling wooden framed windows are a striking feature, but the grey picks them out against the neutral walls and highlights the shape and detailing. If you don’t have wooden framed doors or windows, UPVC windows can also be painted, just look for a specialist primer or paint for durability.
8. Lift your grey scheme with a mix of sorbet brights
If you are not a fan of washed out sorbet tones but the idea of primary brights scare you to bits, why not try this punchy-pastel alternative. Think Primrose yellow, not lemon sorbet and blues that veer towards turquoise rather than soft powder blue.
Choose a neutral grey colour to allow you to experiment with the palette on artwork and accessories.
9. Add depth with different shades
Use a variety of greys to give depth to your grey living room. Use a lighter, warmer grey when painting the walls and layer darker saturations with a painted fireplace surround and statement furniture pieces. Layering the same colour in different tones creates a calming atmosphere that feels cohesive.
Soft grey and dark charcoals are both equally enhanced with the addition of some natural greens, whether real foliage or as accent soft furnishings. The flourish of green helps to connect the space with a sense of nature.
10. Wow with brooding dark shades
There’s no denying interior trends in recent years have very much embraced the dark side. As confidence in colour has grown homeowners have been looking to express their personalities more with bold colour choices. A striking almost-black charcoal grey is ideal for an attention-seeking statement, as shown here contrasted by the stunning fireplace idea.
A colour of this nature is not just for larger rooms either. Used wisely it can be a great small living room idea also – says Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.
Using dark paint to make a space feel bigger might seem counterintuitive, but Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen explains that particularly when you have a wall-mounted television, painting the space behind it will work much better.
11. Echo natural shades of grey
Allow the colour of natural stone to inspire your grey colour choices. Use your paint samples on a piece of card to hold against the original walls to determine the perfect pairing to compliment the natural warmth on the walls. Offset the light grey decorating with darker accents on the furniture to add depth, as shown in this rustic living room.
12. Keep grey understated and sophisticated
Sometimes understated can have the biggest impact, especially when paired with bold furniture and furnishing choices. The light grey on the walls can help to act like a blank canvas, without being as stark as white.
‘Our most popular group of greys is made up of Wevet, Ammonite and Cornforth White – colours that are so relaxed and easy to live with you barely notice that they are there,’ explains Joa Studholme at Farrow & Ball.
‘They have a gossamer-like appearance so are perfect for those who prefer understated decoration which does not challenge us very much but gives a huge amount of versatility.’
13. Layer a tonal colour palette
How irresistible does this cosy living room look, thanks to the layers of texture. With a mix of neutrals forming a soothing foundation, grey-toned blues and warming oranges add energy to the scheme.
At first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking this shade on the walls isn’t grey, but it is that of Farrow & Ball’s No5 Harwick White.
This rich and warming shade of grey is the perfect colour to add depth to a living room. While it provides a comforting backdrop for gentle neutral colours and honest materials, it’s equally rich enough to hold its own against darker contrasting colours – such as black ironwork and ebony wood accents.
14. Create a sanctuary with slate and wood accents
Slate grey walls look anything but cold when paired with rustic, natural woody furniture accents. Fill the room with plenty of textures such as a fluffy berber rug and straw basket for storing blankets to complete the relaxed living room scheme.
15. Cocoon yourself with a warming grey
Colours that whisper rather than shout are a must for rooms designed to promote relaxation. Deep greys like this – Stable Gates by Dulux – gently cocoon and visually don’t distract, so you can focus on a film or good book.
Stable Grey’s warm make-up also means that it works as well with a terracotta or blush as it does with a pale or stonewashed blue – or indeed, a forest green, as shown in the grey and green living room above. That versatility comes in handy if you like to switch up soft furnishings on a regular basis.
16. Warm up grey walls with bright prints
A floor to ceiling pale grey colour palette is the perfect canvas to make a splash with brightly coloured wall display ideas. A floating picture shelf is a great non-permanent solution to displaying wall art. You can easily swap one print for another as your collection grows and changes.
Putty and blue-coloured patterned cushions and a geometric rug in dark navy add pops of muted colour for a sophisticated, yet cosy living room.
17. Use warm tones of grey to soften statement patterns
Pale grey walls create the perfect backdrop for statement patterns in this country living room. The warm undertones of grey absorbs busy patterns, meaning it’s less stark than, say, white walls. This quality allows pattern to sit more comfortably within the overall scheme. Want to see if white works better? Our white living room ideas show you how this shade can be used.
18. Create calming vibes with natural foliage
Cool shades of grey can have a calming effect on an interior space. This can be enhanced further with the addition of natural house plants and foliage, a hugely popular accessory choice. The cool tones of the Dulux Grey Steel 2 wall colour in this living room is the perfect backdrop to enhance the lush green of the botanicals incorporated into the scheme.
19. Take the colour from the floor to ceiling
Grey tones kick off with Farrow & Ball’s Pavillion Gray Estate on the walls and even the ceiling, to create a box of cocooning colour. Moving down to a large grey corner sofa and light grey carpet. This key colour is also picked up in statement floor rug. We say you can never have too much grey!
20. Try a panelled wall
In addition to the cocooning deep, blue-toned grey, the fine ribbed panelling creates cosy texture. It’s a great trick for adding features to new builds and boxy rooms that don’t have any architectural interest.
This contemporary, corrugated wall panelling idea is totally on trend too. Pitch the line of panelling above key pieces of furniture. Ramp up the intimate feeling by painting above the panelling and the ceiling in a dramatic charcoal.
21. Update a grey country scheme with paisley print
Update the backdrop in a classic country scheme with paisley-print living room wallpaper ideas, pictured here in a smart grey. Choose cushions and upholstery in opulent weaves, soft linens and plush damasks, with Moroccan-style metal tables to add glamour.
‘Be extravagant with finishing touches for an opulent look,’ advises Ideal Home’s Style Editor, Michela Collling. ‘For example, double up on fabrics so curtains feel fuller.’
22. Use grey as a base for soft geometrics
Team cool grey and geometrics with primrose yellow splashes for a vintage look with a modern twist. Keep the scheme contemporary with grey walls and furniture. Then add warmth with summer living room ideas such as hints of yellow in geometric prints and furnishings and character with a cool mix of retro accessories. Wooden cube tables and copper details complement the retro vibe.
23. Team warm grey with soft ivory for effortless elegance
Make a living room more inviting with a warm grey wall colour that mixes well with other neutrals. Pile up the sofa with cushions and throws in complementary shades, with a Berber rug as your anchor point.
‘If an all-grey scheme feels too flat and monotone, work in an extra layer of colour with an elegant ivory for a subtle lift,’ says Vanessa Richmond, Ideal Home’s Editorial Director. Flashes of mustard, olive green or softer tones of nude or blush work well with any yellow-toned greys.
24. Curate a grey scheme
Who says grey can’t be cosy, warm and inviting? This duck egg living room scheme debunks that theory. A hugely comfortable armchair is the perfect place to start, and this one certainly delivers.
Opt for chunky knits, pattern and texture to give a grey living room a welcoming feel. Curate a wall with monochrome prints and photography for a chic. stylish space that you just won’t want to leave.
25. Bring grey to life with bright colours
Worried grey alone might seem a bit dull? Then choose your accessories carefully. A blue sofa, yellow chair and tomato red lamp really sing out against a mid-grey backdrop. Pull everything together with a rug that features all the different shades that you are using, and voilà – decorating perfection!
26. Add warmth with vintage pieces
In this neutral living room, the grey comes courtesy of carpets, curtains and two squishy sofas. But the owner of this real home has been careful not to make it too cool. Blush cushions, old shutters hung up on the wall and a vintage trunk introduce cosy tones, making this the perfect space to snuggle.
27. Combine colours
Take the intimidation out of a grey colour scheme by warming up this look with oh-so-fashionable copper accessories. The rose-gold undertones have a lovely way of adding a glow to the scheme, making it warm and inviting.
If you don’t want to go grey-all-over, consider creating a winning colour combination by teaming grey with pink. This pretty duo packs a stylish punch.
28. Inject a shot of sunshine yellow
If you’ve already dipped your toe into the grey trend with pale walls, you may now be ready to take things a few shades darker. As you can see, it’s a sophisticated way to go, and will instantly make a room feel cosier.
However, if you’re nervous it will seem too dark, stick to one feature wall – you can always paint the others at a later date. Yellow accessories will also brighten things up, provided you choose a strong enough shade. This deep daffodil shade is ideal.
29. Give florals a trend twist
There’s something almost regal about this deep grey living room, with pops of colour provided by the curtains, cushions and purple living room furniture and upholstery. Using such a dark backdrop really brings out the brighter tones, and it does something magical to a floral print, making it appear edgy and modern as opposed to mumsy or in any way old-fashioned.
30. Go global
Grey makes a fine backdrop to these energising Ikat patterns and hints of rich orange. Try this look with mid-century living room ideas, such as furniture. Add elegance with smooth, dark woods, or create a Wild-West feel with weathered wood and leather.
31. Start with a feature wall
A feature wall is always a good jump-off point if you’re nervous of working with a new shade. You could even start by painting a chimney breast. Or you could take it to the next level and commission built-in furniture from a local carpenter, then finish it in a deep grey. Coordinate with carpets and upholstery in a paler shade.
32. Use grey furniture
This traditional living room creates a striking feature using floor-to-ceiling built-in bookcases. The unit has been painted the same soft shade of grey as the walls, allowing it to blend seamlessly in with the rest of the room.
The grey of the sofa and radiator brings the whole look together while splashes of colour have been added using the books themselves and scatter cushions.
33. Mix grey with warmer neutrals
Create a relaxing living room with a tightly controlled palette of toning greys and neutrals. Mid-tone grey walls and flooring provide a warm, inviting backdrop for a neutral sofa and rug and delicately patterned cushions.
The footstool and lustrous throw introduce a deeper accent grey, while the painted wall is tailor made for a gallery of black-and-white family photographs, mounted in matching white frames. A white lamp and side tables balance the darker grey accents, bringing the scheme together.
34. Introduce plenty of pattern and texture
Stop all-grey from looking flat by adding texture and pattern. For a winter-proof living room you’ll want to hunker down in, texture is key. Furry cushions and super-soft blankets make this the perfect space to curl up in. Break up those shades of grey with some well-chosen patterned dainty curtains, a statement rug and chunky weaves are all it takes.
35. Start with a grey sofa
While dark blue and green sofas are gaining popularity, if you’re looking for a sofa you won’t tire of, grey is a strong choice. A smart silver grey sofa like this Model 01 sofa from Swyft has simple, unfussy lines that ensure it won’t date in a hurry.
While black living rooms might seem too dark for some, the light tone of this sofa along with the wooden flooring and natural light coming through the windows breaks up the otherwise dark scheme.
36. Keep it classic
If you fancy a more traditional feel in your living room, don’t overdo the grey. This wonderfully smart scheme uses a mid grey on walls and the built-in living room storage idea adds a hint of it in blue/grey occasional chairs, but gives the rest of the scheme up to white, leather and wood.
An upholstered footstool and rugs are vehicles for warm red pattern. The Chesterfield sofa is a classic touch in-keeping with the traditional fireplace and book storage. It is the footstool fabric and mid century-style chairs that update the look.
37. Play with trends
Try a fusion of styles with this grey living room that contrasts rough industrial with global grandness. The grey-toned neutral colour palette is the starting point, teamed with a mix of geometric and Ikat print fabrics.
Follow this with contrasting furniture styles, from the grand Chesterfield sofa and retro leather armchair to the industrial steel shelving and coffee table.
38. Experiment with different depths of grey
Pick a plump sofa for lounging. This charcoal grey number adds elegance and interest to a minimal room. Explore the many depths of a grey colour palette by layering tones to create a scheme that looks cohesive.
By using the same colour, but in both its palest and deepest incarnations, you can create a rich, contrasting look that is co-ordinated. A glass coffee table and side table add a glamorous note.
39. Create a grey coastal scheme
Try this take on a traditional coastal living room idea but instead of sea blues, the colour palette here is a cool wintry grey. Start with a pale wash of grey over the walls, then bring in pieces of weathered-wood furniture and faded linen upholstery to give the room a lived-in look.
Accessorise with whitewashed basketware, driftwood, smooth ceramics and opaque glassware to carry on the coastal theme.
40. Go smart with grey
Smarten up a family living room with a modern grey and monochrome scheme with a graphic linear wallpaper as the focal point. Worried that a modern scheme might look too grey?
Add pops of a bright accent colour on cushions and accessories. Bring in an informal element with a picture ledge positioned above the sofa – line with family photographs and favourite prints that you can add to and rearrange at your leisure.
41. Pretty up grey with pink
Use the gentlest of greys as a springboard for blush pink, plum and buff tones. Mid century-style furniture rubs shoulders here with contemporary pieces in brilliant hi-gloss white.
The floor-to-ceiling living room curtain idea adds a lovely touch of dip-dyed pink, while cushions and floral displays channel rich plum tones. Grey and pink is a winning combination, particularly suited to modern living rooms, and works just as well as a grey bedroom idea.
What are the best grey paints for a living room?
Each shade of grey paint is capable of creating a different look, feel and style of living room and the shade that you choose will be part and parcel of your own personal style. Modern living room schemes tend to call for cooler, darker, dramatic charcoals or near-blacks. While vintage and classic-inspired styles have a natural affinity with warmer blue and green-toned greys.
How do you add warmth to a grey living room?
How you add warmth to a grey living room is by choosing the right shade of paint for walls – depending on the light quality. Getting the right temperature of grey will help to instantly make the shade feel warmer in all lights.
‘If you have a south-facing room that you are using during the day then you can afford to choose virtually any grey,’ explains Joa from Farrow & Ball.
‘But you need to be wary in north-facing rooms where grey can appear cold and clinical, so you should opt for a shade with warmer or more beige undertones. Elephants Breath and Skimming Stone always come to the rescue in these circumstances.’
What colours go with grey in a living room?
The ideal colour to go with grey in a living room will depend on the depth you’ve chosen. Generally speaking, warmer shades of grey will benefit from equally warm accent colours such as rich greens, vibrant yellows and pops of bright pink. Colder tones pair naturally well with paler colours such as blush pink and watery blues.
Love these grey living room ideas? Will you be incorporating grey into your next living room colour plan?
Additional words by Michela Colling, Nicky Phillips